Linguistics 106

For this assignment, you will be asked to examine 5 different typological properties found within
either a language within sub-Saharan Africa (in the Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, Khoisan families)
or a language spoken in East or Southeast Asia (in the Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai, or
Hmong-Mien families). You may not choose Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
The task of this assignment is to examine the properties of the language in relation to general
properties we have discussed in class so far (or in terms of properties your book has discussed).
You should use WALS to explore certain features in relation to the ones in the questions below to
give you an areal comparison. The answer to each of the questions below should contain both
examples in the language and some (2-4 sentence) discussion of how it relates to the general pattern
in the area or in the language family.

Question 1: Does the language have a lexical tone contrast? If so, please provide some examples
of words with this contrast. Is the contrast similar to the languages spoken in the surrounding area?
If not, does the language have a contrast in word stress? Is this similar or different from the
languages spoken in the surrounding area? (WALS Ch.13a)

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Question 2: What is the vowel system like? How many vowels are there? How does this
compare to related languages? Is there a distinction between ATR and non-ATR vowels? Is there
a distinction in voice register (phonation type) in the vowel system? Describe the pattern the best
you can. (WALS Ch.2a)

Question 3: How are nouns categorized in the language? Are there noun classes (like in Bantu)?
If so, what are they and how many are there? Are they arbitrary or do they seem to be semanticallymotivated? (WALS Ch.30a). Are there noun classifiers (like in Mandarin)? If so, what are they
and how many are there and do they seem to be semantically-motivated?

Question 4: What is the morphology of the language like? Is it agglutinative, fusional, synthetic,
or isolating? How many distinctions can be marked on a single verb? (WALS Ch.22a) How does
this compare with related languages? (For this question, you may find it helpful to first read the
short description related to WALS Ch.22a by Bickel and Nichols.)

Question 5: What is the word order of the language like (SOV, VSO, SVO, etc)? (WALSCh.81a and 81b) Please provide an example or two. How does this compare with the language
family or with related languages spoken nearby?

BONUS! You may receive an additional 2 points on this assignment (12/10 – or a 20% bonus)
if you pick one additional chapter from WALS and examine your language in relation to it. You
pick the category/chapter.

The paper will be based on the Vietnamese language.
the homework assignment will be based on the vietnamese language.

the writing can be done with the question number in bold as a subheading will the question is answered in paragraph form underneath .

it can be 2 pages with 1/4 page.


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